AMBER HEARD in "The Informers" (2009)

The following article has been submitted into Stinkylulu’s “Class of 2009” supporting actress blogathon. If you, yourself, have a personal favorite supporting actress performance you would like to get more recognition, feel free to write-up an analysis of the work, post it on your blog, and take part of the event on January 17th. Follow this link and also, check out Stinkylulu’s write-ups on Oscar-nominated performances. Some of the best, most entertaining you’ll come across on the web.

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Traditionally, film characters are works of the screenwriter (or source material thereof), and their jobs are to give them the depth that the actor will eventually present on the screen. Rarely, but beautifully, characters in film are sometimes written as symbols or representations of the film’s overall motif; the screenwriter basically giving the actor a challenge to bring their own personal touch of depth to the role. This process is usually where some of the most natural and best performances in cinema get their power from. When an actor is brave enough to shed off all familiarity and present a character without any screenwriting boundaries, you get, in return, a natural and personal performance. So far, in 2009, one of the best examples of this is:

Amber Heard in The Informers
(2009)
approx. 10 minutes and 4 seconds
12 scenes
roughly 10.2% of film’s total running time

In order to unlock the complexity of Amber Heard’s performance, you at first have to understand what The Informers is substantially about. The film focuses on an array of rich, sex-crazed Los Angeles twentysomethings (and their parents) who all seem to be lost in their own high-class lifestyle. They have all the money, sex, drugs, and power that America offers, but they are still isolated and filled with personal decay.

While most of the characters throughout The Informers realize these problems, and try best to face them, Heard’s Christie is too feeble-minded to see the emotional mess that comes into effect when you sleep around, do all the drugs in the book, and stay dishonest with yourself. Heard’s performance is full of nice, subtle touches that make her feel comfortable in the film. The way she flips her hair back with her hand, the way she smiles when she’s in a tough situation, or the way she stays quiet and only really speaks when she is prompted to take care of boyfriend Graham (Jon Foster).

Christie is truly loved by Graham (Jon Foster), but does Christie love him the same? Both like to sleep around with other people, but Graham is slowly feeling like Christie is starting to prefer the company of others to his. It especially hurts him to think that she is falling in love with his best friend Martin (Austin Nichols).

There’s a pinnacle moment in the first act of the film where Graham watches Christie engage in a foursome with Martin and two strangers. At that moment, Christie looks at him and you expect her to do her usual smile. Instead, however, the girl disturbingly stares him down with a sense of wanting to hurt him. This intensely scary moment is the start of Christie’s character arc. Up until this point, she was viewed as a one-dimensional object of sex appeal. A representation of lust, complete horniness, and firecracker sexiness; the girl basically walking around in the nude everywhere she goes. After this scene, we never see the girl gratuitously nude again. That’s because while we were drooling over Christie beforehand, we are now forced to be like Graham and see the striking underbelly of her personality.

The major conflict between Christie and Graham is the sex, which is ironic seeing as this is what the film most definitely focuses on. Those who disliked the film have written off the characters as shallow or depressing. Writing it off for those reasons is obviously missing the point of the entire picture. You’d be surprised how subtle and realistic the characters are presented in this film, even while Gregor Jordan’s direction becomes a bit redundant. With Christie, most specifically, she is not a loud, obnoxious character. When she tries to assure Graham, in one scene, that they really love one another, she comforts her boyfriend well; making this scene entirely unsettling. Does she really love him in return? Is she playing mind games? What’s going through her head?

There are also many moments earlier in the film where Christie isn’t afraid to be bitter. But even while doing this, she still clings onto that same collected calm she inhibits at the other times. These scenes make her come off as detestable with a foul personality. But later scenes really give Christie the edge of possibly just being an innocent young girl falling victim to her surroundings.

The screenplay gives actress Amber Heard very few lines (she only speaks in five of her twelve scenes and even most of them are as low as five lines or less in each sequence) and a lot of the time she happens to blend into the background of the moment. But somehow, Heard makes it so that she is always there.

She plays Christie with immense delicacy; bracing the coldness of a confused girl with a muddled sense of being. We don’t hate her (never) because we see the refinement that Graham sees in her. And also, even when she seems to be frigid with her honesty, we are also faced with the glaring truth that she is not a little girl lost – she’s a little girl becoming the naïve victim of the lost.

The most important scene of Heard’s performance happens to be the film’s most essential moment. It also happens to be the very final sequence of The Informers, and it is so paramount to what the film is trying to say. (As I stated before, the characters have all the riches, but they are still decomposing spirits.) In this scene, Christie lays in the sand on a grim beach staring deep into the sky, her body scarred with the paleness and bruises of AIDS.

She has become the concrete representation of what those around her are burying deep within themselves. She has crumbled with the lifestyle she was persuaded in believing was the best, ignoring all of the consequences.

“I need more sun,” she says to Graham, looking at the clouds and waiting for the heat to return and medicate her pale, white body.

Graham knows that the sun won’t be coming (just as solace is practically invisible with his lifestyle) and with a kiss, walks forever away from his love, leaving her isolated on the crater-filled sand of the beach. Christie is just another one that failed; nothing more. And it’s also quite a distressing final note to remember that, throughout the film, all the other characters have been sexually connected to Christie in some way. This means that their futures are doomed to be just as bleak as hers.

Amber Heard ushers along her short screentime and never falls down to becoming one-note, inattentive, or forgettable. She brings a sublime and natural screen presence to a film that is otherwise blunt and heavy-handed. No matter how quiet and small Heard’s portrayal of Christie is, The Informers is ultimately her tragedy; the good-hearted girl who met her demise at living the all-American dream.

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If you want to see her entire performance yourself, watch this video:

Original Video– More videos at TinyPic

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~ by jerkwoddjh on August 14, 2009.

5 Responses to “AMBER HEARD in "The Informers" (2009)”

  1. i completely agree with everything you said.
    she was really the best part of the movie for me. she said SO MUCH with so few lines

  2. Very happy somebody agrees. It’s a very subtle performance, and so powerful.

  3. terrible, laughable film. wonderful, beautiful performance: i wrote it down on my list of actresses to consider at the end of the year.

  4. It really is a great performance. I’ve grown to not like the film as much as I did the first viewing, but my heart still belongs to Heard for her work in it. She is really stunning and she is absolutely heartbreaking.

    What other actresses are you considering, Walter?

  5. Just recently saw the film and still processing my very mixed feelings on it. But this is a sensational analysis of her performance. It mentioned some things I noticed and others that didn’t occur to me initially. So true that her work in this really stays with you.

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